WHAT MEAL BREAKS ARE YOU ENTITLED TO TAKE IN CALIFORNIA?
Meal period general requirements: One 30-minute meal period for every five hours worked.
The California Labor Code and various Wage Orders prohibit an employer from employing a non-exempt employee for more than five hours without providing an unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes. If the employee works more than 10 hours per day, he or she must be given a second 30-minute meal period.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A MEAL PERIOD
Unpaid meal periods must meet certain requirements or else they are considered an on-duty meal period, which is counted as time worked and for which the employee must be paid. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) defines an “on-duty meal period” as: a meal period during which the employee is not relieved of all duty, regardless of length.
CAN YOU WAIVE YOUR RIGHT TO A MEAL BREAK?
In short, yes, but the waiver is required to contain certain elements and is sometimes invalid if you work more than 10 or 12 hours per day.
The employer and employee are permitted to waive the 30-minute meal period in two circumstances:
- When an employee’s work period for the day does not exceed six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee. But neither the employee nor the employer can be forced to waive the meal period. For example, if the employee wants to waive the meal period but the employer does not, then the meal period cannot be waived.
- When an employee works more than 10 hours per day, the second meal period may be waived if: (a)the employee works no more than 12 hours that day; (b) the employee and employer agree to waive the second meal period; and (c) the first meal period has not been waived.